It was a year ago, the night before flying out of Malaysia and I found myself in a position of hunger as I had consumed all of my “emergency food stash” knowing my trip was coming to an end and I didn’t want to purchase more than I could eat. With no cash due to a broken ATM and no cards accepted anywhere, I walked the night market with faith that a few “samples” could hold me over.
With a rumbling tummy and a light head, I smiled my way through, stopping occasionally to drool over some tasty looking items… now that I write about it, kind of sounds like self torture! Anyway, I paused in front of a vendor to observe the options of beans, greens and soy when a gentle presence made his way to my left. With aged eyes and a frail looking body, he spoke in broken English and said, (to the best of my memory) “You should have some, it’s very good for you”. I politely declined with “Oh, I’m just looking but I’ll keep it mind, thank you”.
With the slightest head nod, he ordered two different options and turned directly to me and (very clearly in my memory) said these words:
“Food is meant for sharing and every human deserves to eat.”
He handed me a spoon and with a happy lump in my throat and a tear on my cheek, we stood there in silence sharing dinner. He smiled as he handed me the remaining and said, “Please finish… god bless”. He walked away into the crowd and left me standing there with gratitude and a new appreciation for food and mankind. After that day, my previous eagerness to share, give and enjoy with others has continuously expanded to a beautiful place in my life. Thank you peaceful stranger at the night market in Malaysia.
I’m not sure why I felt the need to share the story above, but either way it’s done and now lets move on to the scrumptious world of edibles in Cambodia!
Hello, my name is Erika… and I love food.
Typically when I’m on the road, I search for the local ripe choices that Ive never seen before or the ones that are a rare find in the states. Take Jackfruit for example, this massive fruit is one of the largest tree borne and can weigh up to 60lbs! Like most, it’s packed with fiber and nutrients but Jackfruit is one of the rare ones that also holds B complex group of vitamins. (Ill stop myself there as I can get lost in the nutrition world of edible items).
Although I’ve found it to be common in most third world countries, I still haven’t gathered total peace in purchasing from the vendors that have their raw chicken hanging above fresh fruit, or the stomach of random animals sharing the table with leafy greens. Clearly it doesn’t affect the locals, and ironically, thats what usually comes out together in a meal, but there’s something programmed in me that keeps my feet moving until I find the stand without blood next to the vegetables.
Meat and fish lovers may enjoy the following photos… Vegetarians, hold your breath and scroll quickly.
In the photos below you might be able to see the blur of the fish as they flip around. I suppose that’s the freshest you can get next to fishing for it yourself.
This puts a new meaning to a “fish stick”.
If you get hungry while shopping around, there’s always several options to choose from. The most common are a variety of spiced soups, noodles and sautéed mixtures.
My favorite Cambodian dish (so far) is the bean and taro tapioca bowl with warm coconut milk over the top, it reminds me of the rice with milk my grandma use to make. For dessert, I’ve fallen in food love with the pumpkin (the real vegetable, not the canned stuff) that has an egg custard filling topped with sweetened coconut milk and crushed ice. A homemade sweet pumpkin custard snow cone? Yes please! The most you’ll pay for either of these delights is .50 cents.
It’s also handy that you can sit down and enjoy or have it for take away in either a sealed container, plastic baggie, or to-go cup.
Then there is the small quicker options like hard boiled eggs, dried fish and pre-cut fruit. If you’re still in a snacky mood on your way out, theres never a shortage of random carts that are always politely pushing there way through with finger food items.
Along the way I spotted out this cart-o-curiosity that had been eyeballing me since I got there. What was in those silly roasted banana leaves!? Oh, a banana… Go figure. The stringy rice noodle texture surrounding the banana has me stumped, but either way, I usually prefer my bananas off the tree, straight to my hand.
Walking through these aisles of goodness, I find myself nibbling on random snacks and/or never putting my poor camera down. I’m not going to post the other few hundred pictures from the day, but here are just a few more!
So there you have the food portion of the incredible markets that are found in southern Cambodia. There will have to be a completely separate post describing the nonedible options that entertain the market seekers as well. Nail and hair salons, books and bags, construction tools to buttons and entire strips of what I would consider, a designers toy store. Look for the night market post coming soon!